A Way of Life, not just a day

The day after Thanksgiving, someone complained that their trip to shop was a waste because there weren’t any real deals this year. It made me laugh. I think I understand something of that frustration but wonder-  Is it really worth it? Those who do this early Christmas shopping thing, Black Friday and all, expect to find real bargains.

But, we all know that life is so much more than the price we pay for our newest LCD TV or laptop PC. In spite of that knowledge, there are some things we can do to retrain our mind and shift our emotions so that gratitude, not griping, is our first response to life’s disappointments, big and small.

We cannot allow “Thanksgiving” to just be a day to say ‘thank you’ to family and friends, to feel a flicker of gratefulness for the good things in our lives. We will be so much healthier physically, richer in spirit, and sweeter in relationships when we make Thanksgiving into “thanksliving.”

How can we do this?

Become generous!  Give things away freely. Share your time without parceling it out frugally. Listen intently.  Invest a portion of your income in charity.  In our church we teach tithing, based on the experience of the people of God in the Scripture. Tithing is presenting 10% of income to the Lord.  I believe that tithing is a guiding principle for our generosity, a baseline for the kind of generosity that helps to make us thankful people.

So much of our ‘charity’ today is stimulated by sad stories, pitiful pictures, or promises of ‘feel good’ recognition when our name goes on the wall!  In truth, generosity must grow beyond our feelings, to become a way of life, as purposeful as the investment strategy of Warren Buffet! We should look for worthy ministries, well run charities, and individuals that we can help onto their feet. In these ways, we put a portion of our resources, at least a tithe, to work for God. Gratitude grows in the fertile soil of generosity.

Worship deeply, regularly, and from the heart! True worship restores proper perspective, reminding us that we are not the center of the universe.  Carving 15 minutes into your morning schedule to look up and outside of yourself, to read a Psalm, to pray, to reconnect with the Lord God, will change your mind and heart.  Gathering with others to go through the patterns of worship is not just a good habit, it’s God’s ‘ask’ of us. “Don’t forsake the assembling of yourselves,” He says. True Worship is much more than some songs and a sermon. It is an acknowledgement of His primacy in life. In worship we learn how to live to bless.

Become aware of people around you!  Living a ‘me centered’ life is so natural.  “Serve me. Coddle me. Love me. Fit yourself to my needs.”  Looking for people to thank helps to destroy selfishness. We realize how much those around contribute to our well-being.

Give suffering and hardship a place in your life.  For some of you, that is just too much. Up to this point perhaps you were nodding in agreement, but now you’re shaking your head; “No way, not me.”

God can use the suffering to turn our hearts to Him and, if we find comfort in His promises and Presence, that suffering can make us beautiful people.

Moses, the great leader, when he was advanced in age, called the people of the Lord together to give them a serious warning.  He said, “God will bless you and you will likely become self-sufficient. Then, you will be tempted to forget to serve God.” Read his words (it’s a long passage) and let them remind you of the importance of thanks-living.  “For the people of Israel belong to the Lord; Jacob is his special possession. He found them in a desert land, in an empty, howling wasteland. He surrounded them and watched over them; he guarded them as his most precious possession. Like an eagle that rouses her chicks and hovers over her young, so he spread his wings to take them in and carried them aloft on his pinions. The Lord alone guided them; they lived without any foreign gods. He made them ride over the highlands; he let them feast on the crops of the fields. He nourished them with honey from the cliffs, with olive oil from the hard rock. He fed them curds from the herd and milk from the flock, together with the fat of lambs and goats. He gave them choice rams and goats from Bashan, together with the choicest wheat. You drank the finest wine, made from the juice of grapes. But Israel soon became fat and unruly; the people grew heavy, plump, and stuffed! Then they abandoned the God who had made them; they made light of the Rock of their salvation.” (Deuteronomy 32:9-15, NLT)`

So, let’s us give thanks, today, tomorrow, and each day- making gratitude a way of life.

This is the word from the Word – “Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” (1 Thessalonians 5:18, NIV)

Give Thanks

Give thanks with a grateful heart
Give thanks to the Holy One
Give thanks because He’s given
Jesus Christ His Son 

And now let the weak say I am strong
Let the poor say I am rich
Because of what the Lord has done for us
And now let the weak say I am strong
Let the poor say I am rich
Because of what the Lord has done for us

 Give thanks

Henry Smith © 1978 Integrity’s Hosanna! Music (Admin. by Capitol CMG Publishing (Integrity Music [DC Cook]))

CCLI License # 810055

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